Bach's God of Movement that isn't a God of Meaning



Interesting post from computationalist Joshua Bach:

Four Gods

...I find that in contrast to the god of meaning, the unmoved god of movement may be an ontological necessity. The universe manifests itself as a set of discernible differences at our systemic boundary, which is to say, a vector of bits that our mind interprets as its current state. This current state contains the past as memories, and the future as possibilities, and possibly even ourselves as the structure of an interpretational system, and yet it does not suffice to account for any conscious experience. Consciousness is intrinsically a process, spanning more than one state. To notice that we are conscious, we must be able to access patterns of information that we may interpret as past world states, along with other patterns that we may interpret as different past world states, and in comparing them to experience that a progression of states takes place. A progression of states requires a principle that allows for transition from one state to the next. This is reflected in our definitions of computation, which are based on states that are ordered by a transition function.

In other words, the universe does not manifest itself as a giant pattern of bits, but as a succession of patterns, which means that something must progress from one pattern to the next. Some function, outside of the context of the state of the universe, must push the tensor network we tentatively call reality from one moment to the next.

The computations of the universe can in principle not be self-contained. If the universe contains mechanisms that allow it to compute, then something must act as its computational substrate that moves the computations of the universe along. There is of course nothing we can say about this computational substrate, except that it realizes a transition function capable of moving the universe from one state to the next. This outermost mechanism does not exist in space or time; rather, its state successions give rise to space and time, and all objects that appear to populate our animated universe. Compare to Aristotle...

...Without this Prime Mover, nothing in the universe could progress, computation would be impossible, we would not have minds, and hence could not have a conscious experience of a dynamic or even static universe. It may be tempting to conflate Aristotle's god: the Turing machine that runs the universe, with Aquinas' god: transcendental meaning and purpose, or even with a spiritualized god. But such an attempt seems to be epistemologically dishonest to me.